Health select committee hears evidence on complaints and raising concerns from Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and Local Government Ombudsman

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4.58pm The health select committee has adjourned so the members can attend a vote. Earlier in the session Dame Julie outlined three principles which she said could define a consumer-led view of what a good complaints experience looked like:

  • “I as a complainant feel that I’m absolutely confident that when I complain [the process] will be straightforward and fair.
  • “Then my experience of it is that I was listened to and my concerns were addressed.
  • “My experience of it is… that the learning from my complaint has happened and that services were improved for others.”

Dame Julie also confirmed that her office would apply the same standard to complaints made about their own service.

4.42pm Dame Julie says she was “thrilled” with the public administration select committee’s recommendation to create a single public services ombudsman, and that she is “praying it will lead to action”

4.40pm Dr Martin says much can be achieved to integrate the two ombudsman without legislation, but that legislation will be required to establish jurisdictional powers.

4.38pm Dr Jane Martin says she backs a single public services ombudsman, which she says is necessary because of the “increasing integration of health and social care”.

4.22pm Dame Julie says the ombudsman provided all relevant information on its involvement in the events at Morecambe Bay to the Grant Thornton review which the CQC commissioned, and to the Kirkup inquiry.

4.16pm Charlotte Leslie has brought up the subject of James Titcombe’s intention to legally challenge the ombudsman’s refusal to review decisions taken by Ann Abraham in relation to Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust. Read more about it here.

4.04pm Dame Julie Mellor says there has been a post-Francis cultural change in terms of a “national commitment” to reforming the complaints system, but that this “probably” is not yet being experienced by patients.

3.58pm Dr Jane Martin says LGO is “in a good place” in relation to its complaints handling.

3.57pm The health select committee is now hearing evidence from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, and Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.

2.47pm NHS England has been urged to centrally manage NHS redundancies again amid widespread expectations of cost-saving layoffs over the next two years.

Both union bosses and the agency’s commissioning support committee have told the organisation’s bosses to run another centrally managed HR programme.

This would enable staff at risk of redundancy to be matched to vacancies elsewhere in the system, minimising pay-offs and enabling those who want to continue working in the NHS to do so.

2.42pm The health select committee evidence session on complaints and raising concerns is now under way. You can watch it live here.

2.21pm “Urgent action” is needed to ensure the NHS meets the 18 week waiting times target for elective surgery, Simon Stevens has said.

Writing in the chief executive’s report in NHS England’s latest board papers, Mr Stevens says:

“Providers are rightly now taking significant steps to ensure safe staffing following the findings of the Francis and Keogh reviews. In the round, 2014/15 is expected to be more financially challenging than last year. Other areas of current attention include:

  • “18 week RTTs. More concerted action is urgently now needed by providers and commissioners to ensure that the NHS continues to meet the public’s legitimate expectation of acceptable waiting times for admitted patient care. This is something that NHS England (hand in glove with Monitor, TDA and DH) will be emphasising over the coming weeks.”

2.12pm A Yorkshire trust which is being investigated by Monitor over concerns about its finances has seen its deficit treble in a month - and is braced for a further increase.

Barnsley Hospital Foundation Trust ended the financial year with a deficit of £7.4m, up from £2.4m just one month beforehand, according to papers from its May board meeting

The papers attribute the deficit to an “adverse pay position” driven by significant increases in agency costs and a “non-achievement” of its cost improvement plans.

2.05pm Reforms to the health and social care system cleared the Commons yesterday, with ministers claiming they would lead to the most significant changes in more than 60 years.

Health minister Dan Poulter told MPs the Care Bill would seek to improve the lives and quality of care for many people, particularly the frail elderly and those with disabilities and long-term care needs.

But the measures, which include seeking to introduce a £72,000 cap on care costs in England and safeguards for data-sharing of medical records, were labelled “modest” and a “Frankenstein Bill” by Labour.

12.43pm The Royal College of Nursing has commented on the Telegraph’s story about NHS England expense claims. Here’s what chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said:

“When patient services face continued cut backs and the majority of health service workers have been denied a one per cent cost of living pay increase, it is galling for both NHS staff and patients that senior officials appear to be continuing to lavish spending on food and travel.

“Simon Stevens’ promise to clampdown on his officials’ expenses is sensible and fair. Senior NHS England staff will have legitimate claims to make and should not be prevented from travelling and engaging with frontline workers and their patients, but a much better balance must be struck between these claims and the pressing need for financial prudence.

“The health service is currently experiencing huge pressures on its resources so it is only fair that senior figures at NHS England show the same restraint being asked of staff and services.”

12.37pm The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has declared itself “absolutely” satisfied that it can properly handle complaints about patient deaths following a series of internal reforms.

Dame Julie Mellor told HSJ that the watchdog had learned the lessons from its involvement in events at Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust.

11.09am Also in the Mail, a boy of four choked to death in hosptal after his nurse went on a two-hour break, an inquest has heard.

Daniel Hames died in March last year, after being admitted to the Doncaster Royal Infirmary. The staff nurse who had been responsible for monitoring him had gone on a break after telling a second nurse to carry out observations on the child.

But the inquest heard the observations were not done and Daniel was later discovered to have vomited and choked to death.

Assistant coroner John Sleightholme asked a hospital matron if the length of break was normal. She said: “You anticipate a degree of flexibility but the length of time on that occasion was not acceptable nor, I am aware, common practice.” The nurse who went on the two-hour break was later sacked after a disciplinary hearing.

11.01am The Daily Mail reports that a GP who stole £130 from a mother’s purse after she left the consulting room to attend to her sick baby son faces being struck off the medical register.

Kelly Wissenden caught Nurpal Mittal, who has been found guilty of theft, rifling through the handbag she had left with her son’s buggy in the family doctor’s office.

10.37am There’s a couple of interesting select committee sessions today. The Business, Innovation and Skills select committee is currently quizzing Pfizer executives on their planned takeover of British pharmaceuticals firm AstraZeneca. You watch the session here.

At 2.30pm the health select committee will hold its latest evidence session on complaints and raising concerns. In the first session the witnesses will be Lisa O’Dwyer and Liz Thomas from Action against Medical Accidents and Sonia Sodha from Which?

In the second session, which is due to begin at 3.30pm, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, and the Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin, will be giving evidence.

We’ll keep you posted on what’s being said at the committee when it kicks off this afternoon.

10.21am Also in The Telegraph, increasing numbers of women in their forties are having abortions because they mistakenly believe they are not very fertile and therefore are less likely to use contraception, the paper reports.

Almost half of women aged over 40 who have an abortion are not using contraception, compared with just a third of women aged 20 to 24, according to abortion provider the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

10.17am The Daily Telegraph splashes with a story on the expenses claimed by NHS England boardmembers.

Nine health officials spent almost £200,000 last year on dining, travel and hotels, the paper reports.

The Telegraph obtained the information via Freedom of Information requests.

9.56am It is fair to say that those who have so far commented on our story about Ed Miliband’s GP pledge are generally sceptical. Here’s what some of the commenters have been saying:

“£100m is roughly £12.5k per practice. Whilst any extra funding is welcome it won’t really touch the sides in terms of additional staffing and meeting the new target!”

“Well I won’t be voting Labour without a bit more information and assurance this won’t just line GPs’ pockets with all the conflicts of interests we are currently embroiled in …I’d rather see primary care standardised and regulated like all other providers…”

“So abolishing competition will save money and increase standards? Huh? They just don’t get it, do they…”

9.45am As ever we’ll be sweeping through this morning’s papers on HSJ Live. First up is The Guardian.

The paper reports that more women should give birth with only midwives present because it is better for them and their babies than labour wards where doctors are in charge, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence advises.

The draft guidance says women should choose either a midwife-led unit or to give birth at home “because the rate of interventions is lower and the outcome for the baby is no different compared with an obstetric unit”.

9.35am If you didn’t catch the news yesterday evening, Ed Miliband pledged to boost primary care with £100m from savings elsewhere if Labour form the next government.

The extra cash for GP services will help ensure all patients get a GP appointment within 48 hours, the Labour leader said.

Labour said the £100m would come from “scrapping government rules which have led to spending of at least £78m on unnecessary administration and legal fees because NHS services are now under threat from EU competition law”.

Here on HSJ Live we’ll keep you up to date with the latest comment and reaction to that announcement.

7.00am Good morning. The chair of Camden CCG, Caz Sayer, outlines an approach to older people’s care which is enabling patients to spend more time at home and reduces emergency attendances and hospital admissions.